According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “law enforcement officers are authorized to use force in specified circumstances, are trained in the use of force, and typically face numerous circumstances during their careers when use of force is appropriate.” While this is true, there are many officers today whoabusetheir rights and the power they hold and apply force under circumstances that don’t require it. This, in turn, results in individuals suffering serious and fatal injuries simply because the officer chose to apply force at their own discretion and failed to follow the policy guidelines they are required to abide by.
Now, because it has come to light that many police officers are displaying behavior that sits just outside the realm of what is deemed as an acceptable form of use of force, it is important that you are able to distinguish between behavior that is legal and that of which is illegal. One way you can do this is by becoming familiar with what use of force is and when force that is applied becomes a case of police brutality.
What does it mean when a police officer applies a use of force?
Police officers around the country are placed in compromising situations each and every day. Now, because there are times when their life may be put at risk, they must take action to avoid being injured or harmed and even to prevent others around from being harmed as well. It is important to understand that all law enforcement agencies have their own “policies that guide their use of force” and these policies “describe an escalating series of actions an officer may take to resolve a situation” [Source: National Institute of Justice]. This means that one police department may allow force to be applied under certain circumstances when others don’t.
In most cases, officers generally apply force when they encounter a suspect who isn’t obeying their commands, however, they may apply it in other situations as well. Some common actions that would be considered as a use of force might include:
- An officer punching or kicking an individual in an attempt to restrain them.
- An officer may use a baton or projectile to immobilize someone who is being combative.
- An officer may use chemical sprays in an effort to restrain an individual.
- An officer of the law may use a CED, or a conducted energy device, to immobilize an individual who is at a distance.
- Under certain circumstances might an officer be permitted to use a deadly weapon such as a firearm to stop an individual’s actions.
[Source: National Institute of Justice].
Officers are only permitted to apply force when the situation calls for it and their actions are in compliance with their department’s policies.
What is police brutality?
When an officer applies force that is considered to be excessive, then the situation might escalate into a case of police brutality. You see, officers are expected to “respond [to a situation] with a level of force [that is] appropriate to the situation at hand,” And when they choose to apply more force than necessary, it turns from being an acceptable form of a use of force into a form of police brutality.
Now, because it can be hard to decipher what police officers are and are not permitted to do given the circumstances they are faced with, anyone who believes they may be the victim of police misconduct should contact an Indianapolis, IN police brutality attorney. The lawyers USAttorneys.com can place you in touch with can help you understand whether you are the victim of police brutality and what your legal rights are. If our attorneys determine you are, in fact, a victim, they can help you to take the necessary form of action to hold that officer and even their department accountable for their inappropriate behavior.